Colorful Megan Rapinoe, who scored two remarkable goals in today's dramatic 4-3 extra time win against Canada in the Olympic women's soccer semifinals in Manchester, England, has good things to say about her youth coach in this week's issue of Sports Illustrated.
Rapinoe, a Redding resident, was coached by Sacramento's Danny Cruz through her teenage years at Elk Grove United.
"I don't think he ever really told me how to play," Rapinoe told SI reporter Grant Wahl in his profile of the outspoken midfielder. "He was really good about letting us make mistakes and play free. That was cool. There are a lot of really bad coaches in the U.S. who maybe don't focus on the right things. Sometimes creativity is stamped out at a young age. You have to be a 'typical American.' I take pride in the fact that I'm not a typical American."
Rapinoe was a member of Cruz' Elk Grove team (along with U.S. National Team pool teammate Stephanie Cox) that reached the United States Youth Soccer Association's under-19 girls national championships in 2003. Cruz also coached girls soccer 19 years at Rio Americano.
Rapinoe, whose star keeps rising with the U.S. Team, scored against Canada in the 54th and 70th minutes and set the stage for Abby Wambach's game-tying penalty kick in the 80th minute.
After Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod was whistled for holding the ball, Rapinoe's indirect free kick glanced off the arm of Marie-Eve Nault, resulting in the U.S. penalty kick that Wambach converted.
Rapinoe helped the U.S. tie the match 1-1 early in the second half when she scored directly off a corner kick. She curled the ball just inside the near post, glancing off the legs of defender Lauren Sesselmann and McLeod into the net.
After Christine Sinclair scored the second of her three goals in the 67th minute, Rapinoe tied it again, 2-2, by launching a right-footed rocket into the goal from 15 yards three minutes later.